The Portland Trail Blazers captured another Las Vegas NBA Summer League victory by trouncing the Atlanta Hawks 85-68. Jake Layman impressed with 23 points in the victory for Portland. Along with Layman, guards Anfernee Simons and John Jenkins scored in double figures. Today’s game was headlined by talented Atlanta point guard Trae Young, but he exited the game after just nine minutes of action due to a right quad injury.
Brian Freeman and Steve Dewald were inside the arena for Portland’s victory today. Here are their thoughts on the Blazers’ summer league roster after two strong performances.
What are your thoughts on Anfernee Simons after two games?
Steve: Simons possesses obvious offensive talent. His scoring ability inside the arc is better than what I expected. Due to his ability to change pace quickly, Simons successfully generated points inside the paint. Offensive performances like this could help the 19-year-old guard secure a few minutes in the rotation much earlier than expected. Defensively, he didn’t look completely out of place. Like his first game against Utah, Simons showed he can cause problems in passing lanes. His opportunistic defense netted three steals against Atlanta.
Brian: Simons still looks like a 16-year-old to the point I have to keep reminding myself that he’s in the same age range as the rest of the competition. Ability-wise, however, he definitely belongs. His shooting stroke is nice and he absolutely has that scorer’s mentality. His arsenal is nice. He attempted a mid-range step-back, a floater, and got the ball to the rack. He doesn’t offer much more other than scoring yet, but there is every reason to believe he can develop into a more complete player. His three steals were a good sign about potential defensive playmaking ability.
What were your thoughts on Gary Trent Jr’s performance?
Brian: Trent has no problem letting the ball fly and forced shots that didn’t go down for him. When he’s on balance, his shooting stroke looks terrific. I’m surprised when he misses a jumper. I have yet to see him attack and finish at the rim so far in two games. That would be a great addition to his game. He has a strong pull-up jumper but the ability to get to the rim would open the mid range for him.
Steve: Trent’s field goal percentage (25 percent) is not an accurate reflection of his performance. He looked good on the glass. The Hawks gave the Blazers plenty of chances to nab rebounds, and Trent capitalized from his spot in the backcourt.
What stood out the most today?
Steve: Jake Layman impressed for the second straight game. Caleb Swanigan and Layman combined for a nice two-man game on a handful of possessions. Portland’s regular season roster could use a perimeter player that is proficient at generating points by cutting to the basket. It will be interesting if Layman can parlay his performances in Las Vegas into rotation minutes.
Brian: “Summer League Jake Layman” is a lot of fun. He was the best athlete on the court and he used it to his advantage. He has a nice repertoire on the drive and his shot looks great. He’s really talented. That being said, this is his third year in summer league and he was just as dominant last summer in Vegas. Hopefully the success will carry over to the regular season this year.
What was the most disappointing part of the game?
Brian: Trae Young’s exit was the most disappointing part of the game until a quarter later when Zach Collins walked off the court with an ankle injury. Neither player returned. With Collins and Young off the floor, the game felt like it lacked NBA talent.
Steve: The Blazers have been a well-oiled machine through two games. The same can’t be said about the Hawks. Young’s early exit was a bummer, and Atlanta’s lack of cohesion on both ends of the court made this a tough game to watch. It is hard to gauge Portland’s defensive aptitude when facing an opponent struggling to put together turnover-free possessions.
The Blazers will get a day of rest on Monday before facing the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday.